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This article was co-authored with project management expert, Crystal J. Richards.

Project managers can sometimes feel like they’re doing a thankless job. You know the deal. You’re responsible for initiating, planning, executing, controlling and finalizing a team’s work. You’re accountable for projects that impact the strategic direction of the organization. In some cases, the projects you manage impact the livelihoods of the people who work at the organization.

Project managers bravely embrace their role as leaders of ambitious initiatives. They do this having full knowledge that their efforts sometimes go without formal recognition.

But, project managers, this article isn’t for you. …


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During the course of my career, I’ve interviewed hundreds of people spanning virtually every role. I know a company is poised for success when the right people are in the right positions. So, I always strive to create a positive hiring experience through the interview process. Recently, the tables were turned, and I went through my own hiring experience, interviewing for an executive role. I’m happy to report I was ultimately successful, but along the way I was reminded of a few important things: always treat candidates with respect, and make sure to have a well-planned interview process.

My experience on the other side of the interview table gave me new insights into a strategic approach for finding the right candidate. I also saw how companies can learn how to effectively communicate the relationship between the specific role and business success. …


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Einstein famously said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.” I think we can all agree. Yet, how often do we abide by a ‘business as usual’ stance because that’s the way it’s always been done?

The reality is it’s tricky to break from accepted standards and look at a problem (or opportunity) from a different vantage point. We all need some help to stimulate our minds to think in unconventional ways. When I met the folks at THNK, a higher education design thinking institution and innovation consultancy, and they introduced me to their Reframing methodology, I was instantly blown away. …


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We’ve all been in this situation… A project or program has gone off the rails. Some tasks have too many cooks in the kitchen causing infighting and inertia. In other instances, critical activities and deliverables are falling through the cracks because there’s a lack of ownership. Overall, no one is quite sure who has final say and sign-off as several stakeholders, with differing opinions, continually provide conflicting direction. Frustration abounds.

When we diagnose what’s gone wrong, almost all of the problems lead back to one larger issue — a lack of clarity on who is doing what. The good news is you can prevent this from happening in the future by utilizing a simple process called RASCI that define roles and responsibilities for projects, programs and processes. …


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Strategyzer’s Business Model Canvas: https://www.strategyzer.com/

Silicon Valley’s “fail fast” mentality sounds exciting: Go big, or go home! The problem, of course, is that failure isn’t appealing. It’s hard, painful, and, in certain cases, career-ending.

But if success is better than failure, why do so many startups flame out? A recent study by CB Insights found that most startups fail because there’s no market need for their product or service. Similarly, a 12th & Broad analysis found that poor market fit is a key culprit in startup failure. That’s right: Most startups fail because they build something no one wants.

What good is a well-crafted offering if it serves no discernible need and there are no customers willing to pay for it? If you think about it (or if you’ve been in this position yourself), you know it’s not simple to view your product or service objectively. …


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Credit: Image Flow, Shutterstock

Responsible for innovation? This is the ultimate list of innovation questions for when you speak with the CEO and the Board.


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I once worked with a satellite provider that wanted to win over cable subscribers. The problem? We didn’t know what those customers desired.

Understanding the Value of a CX Pathway

To get inside subscribers’ heads, we used interviews, installation ride-alongs, and focus groups to fuel the creation of a customer experience pathway. This is an illustrative diagram that plots the points in a customer’s interactions and experiences with a brand, be it a product, a service, or a combination thereof, as was the case with this client.


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Credit: Shutterstock

Are you responsible for innovation within your company? Or, are you a consultant focused on helping clients be more innovative?

If you answered “yes” to either question, then you know how difficult it can be to generate a meaningful dialogue about business transformation. Fellow innovators, this post is for you…


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Credit: Anita Ponne, Shutterstock

The C-suite is often thought of as hesitant to embrace change. While many think the tried-and-true should rule, by selecting like-minded people and favoring analytical over intuitive thinking, the C-suite can quickly lose sight of customer needs. However, truly innovative and in-tune executives know that change needs to happen to stay relevant.

Whether it’s through the inclusion of a chief marketing officer, chief customer officer, or chief design officer, the C-suite can benefit greatly from the addition of design-oriented thinkers. Why? Because in all of these roles, the design-minded executive is focused on what matters most: the customer.

A designer’s raison-d’être, after all, is finding new and innovative ways to attract, engage, retain, surprise, and delight the people who purchase your products and services. And this customer-centric perspective can help the C-suite uncover better audience insights and develop innovative solutions. …


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Credits: Andre Popov, LDProd, Nattakorn Maneerat and Tzido Sun — Shutterstock

Sooner or later every executive is asked the question, “What’s your management style?” It’s a reasonable request from anyone trying to understand your leadership approach. Yet this seemingly simple question is not so easy to answer. While you’ve most likely managed teams, and done so successfully, it’s challenging to identify your specific mojo, especially in a pithy one-liner. And how do you explain what makes you an impactful leader without sounding pretentious?

As with every question, if you Google it, you’ll get diverse perspectives. Some sites explain there are six primary management styles — Directive, Authoritative, Affiliative, Participative, Pacesetting and Coaching. Others, such as Wikipedia, state there are only three — Autocratic, Democratic and Laissez-Faire. Still, others like Harvard Business Review, claim there are eight archetypes — Strategist, Change-Catalyst, Transactor, Builder, Innovator, Processor, Coach and Communicator. Many experts further suggest that you identify your personality type through tools such as Myers-Briggs in order to derive your management style and understand how you relate to others. …

About

Amber Bezahler

Strategic operations expert specializing in growth and turnaround situations. Demystifying business transformation @ www.theinnovationframework.com

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